Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo Named 'Best Park in Fairfield County'

Sun, 05/26/2013

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - May 26, 2013 - Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is pleased to announce it has been awarded the "Best Park" award in the 2013 Fairfield County Weekly readers poll. This is the first win for Connecticut's only zoo, which celebrated its 90th birthday last year.

"We couldn't be more proud to win this award," stated Gregg Dancho, zoo director. "We strive to provide affordable family fun that educates and entertains and we do that 362 days a year. Each year we expand and improve our exhibits and every summer we bring in special programming that you won't find anywhere else in the region. We love what we do and we're thrilled that others obviously do too!" Dancho shared.

The zoo recently announced the birth of four Nigerian Dwarf goats and five Guinea hog piglets. In addition, the zoo will open a new exhibit for an extremely rare female Amur leopard and three new Mexican wolves will move in to the former Timber wolf yard. As a special treat this summer, visitors will get a chance to ride a camel and have their photos taken on these exotic beasts.

History of Connecticut's Only Zoo

Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is a premier family destination and one of the state's top tourist attractions, welcoming over 280,000 visitors annually. The zoo is situated on 52 acres in historic Beardsley Park in Bridgeport.

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo began to take shape in 1878 when James Beardsley donated more than 100 acres to the City of Bridgeport on the condition that it "accept and keep the same forever as a public park..." In 1884, the City contracted noted landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who was famous for New York's Central Park, to design Beardsley Park.

Parks Commissioner Wesley Hayes started a campaign in 1920 for a city zoo to be founded in Beardsley Park. He asked Bridgeport citizens to donate animals and 18 exotic birds made their home in the park in the first year. The Barnum & Bailey Circus donated some "retirees," and Beardsley Park Zoo was established in 1922.

Today, the Connecticut Zoological Society, with assistance from the City of Bridgeport and State of Connecticut, runs the zoo year-round as a private, non-profit institution with more than 300 animals representing North and South America. Highlights include an indoor Tropical Rainforest, New England Farmyard, walk-through aviary, including a new Bald eagle exhibit, Wolf Observation Learning Facility (WOLF), carousel, and Victorian greenhouse.

 As part of its mission, Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is involved in groundbreaking animal conservation efforts. The Zoo is home to the first Brazilian ocelot ever to have multiple pregnancies and kittens produced by artificial insemination. Similarly, the Zoo is the first accredited zoo in the northeast to welcome a Chacoan peccary piglet and was the first accredited zoo in the northeast to exhibit this endangered species.

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $12.00, children (ages 3 -11) and senior admission (62 and older) is just $10.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members also are admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge. For more information about Connecticut's only zoo visit
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